Fish oil for brain health and how it works

I am a naturopathic physician with nearly 20 years of experience developing breakthrough nutritional products.I also have extensive television and radio experience and have lectured widely to health professionals, the military and the public on all aspects of natural health.

Dr Myers, an expert who holds a doctorate in naturopathic medicine

Stephen Fry in my surgery during the making of the BBC TV program

Me with Lord Bragg, accepting my "Champion of the Year" award

After graduating, I was recognised as being the 'best young neurosurgeon in Britain'

Most people will probably have heard that fish is brain food but is this really true? The answer to this is a resounding yes and there are numerous studies to back this up. Fish, particularly oily fish such as Tuna, Salmon, Mackerel and Anchovies are abundant in the very nutrients that our brain needs not only to develop and grow healthily but also to function efficiently on a daily basis.

However, before you go rushing out to eat fish seven days a week there is a catch. The fish in our oceans are polluted and therefore if we eat too much of it we are unlikely to experience any health benefits from the Omega 3 in the fish as our bodies will have to deal with the toxins they contain. Currently the official recommendation is to continue to eat fish but no more than twice a week. This is not exactly ideal but fortunately there is another solution.

Fish oil can be taken instead of fish and you will be able to get all the benefits of pure fish without the problems association with the toxins, but again there is a catch. This applies only if you take the right kind of fish oil. The fish oil must be high quality purified fish oil so that it contains the right nutrients and none of the pollutants.

What is in fish oil and how does it work?

Eicosapentaenoic acid or EPA and Docosahexaenoic acid or DHA are the two nutrients that are essential for healthy brain development and function. DHA is more important during pregnancy and in the first few years of life when the brain is developing but after that it is EPA that is required for normal brain function.

No one knows the exact mechanisms that allow EPA to work but it is believed to be due to a number of factors including that as EPA is anti-inflammatory it helps to reduce inflammation throughout the body and increase blood flow to the brain. It is also believed to facility better inter-neural connectivity. The result of this is better concentration and focus and improved memory. It also acts as a mood booster and improves health in general. Indeed, research has shown that fish oil with a high EPA content can alleviate symptoms of depression, ADHD and many other conditions as well as help protect against Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia.

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